Cox, a Republican, says he was informed of the decision — which has not been officially announced by the White House — by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Thursday.
“The President’s decision to enlarge the monuments again is a tragic missed opportunity — it fails to provide certainty as well as the funding for law enforcement, research, and other protections which the monuments need and which only Congressional action can offer,” Cox said in a written statement.
The decision would be a reversal of Trump administration policy that saw the Bears Ears monument, which was established by former President Barack Obama, reduced in size by 85%. Haaland — the first Native American US cabinet secretary — visited the area in April to discuss the issue with state leaders and local tribes, many of which have ancestral ties to Bears Ears.
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.
Republicans quickly criticized the reported decision after Cox released his statement. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said on Twitter that his state’s national monuments are being used as a “political football.”
“The decision to re-expand the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante is a devastating blow to our state, local, and tribal leaders and our delegation,” Romney said. “The President squandered the opportunity to build consensus by working with stakeholders to find a permanent, legislative solution to resolve the longstanding dispute over the monuments’ boundaries & management, which would’ve brought certainty to and benefited all stakeholders.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated.